Hand Tool Injustice #1: What I don't want to admit about hand tools.

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Blog entry by douginaz posted 10-04-2009 03:34 PM 2020 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Lets face it. Most of the people I deal with are primarily a power tool person or hand tool person. There is that rare breed that toggles between the two with little effort but I’m not one of um. I admit to being a power tool junkie. I just never saw the need for a huge selection of numbers of planes whose numbers escape my little mind. Naturally I do have a block plane, a rabbit plane and a scraper I picked up in Germany. I am in the middle of making a coffee grinder for my sisters birth day. I decided the top needed a little Asian flare and I removed too much for the top to sit flush with the sides….what to do? Here it is 4:00 AM on a Sunday morning and I’m sure the neighbors would have fun burning down my house if I fired up the sander, planer or the joiner. I clamped the little piece of 7X7 inch African mahogany on the bench and went at it with the old jack. How sweet, the shavings and curulies that came off that were beautiful and the only sound was the shhhk of the plane, feeling empowered, I angled the blade to a little more than 40 deg. and went at it cross grain, again , no muss, no fuss. I cleaned up the mess and had a fine fit in under 45 minutes. I am suitably impressed and sincerely apologize for any belaboring I have given hand tools in the past.

My hat is off to those that work the wood by hand.


Doug in AZ.

-- If you need craft books - please visit our small business at

10 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5264 days

#1 posted 10-04-2009 04:28 PM

That sweet moment of woodworking nirvana.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4987 days

#2 posted 10-04-2009 04:36 PM

Doug, I could not agree with you more. Like you I am a power tool aficionado. I will admit that I have long neglected development of my hand skills (maybe that is why I still cannot hand cut a dovetail to this day). I greatly admire those woodworkers who have taken the time and put in the effort to develop these traditional skills.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4499 days

#3 posted 10-04-2009 05:47 PM

Thanks for the interesting blog Doug. In the old days carpenters apprentices did most of the drudge work like rough planing, rough sawing and the like. Nowadays, instead of apprentices we use machines. Of course the machines of today often do quite good finish work as well. At my age, I really appreciate my machines. They help my arthritic bones get the job done with minimal work. However, I also love to work with hand tools when and where I can to avoid the dust and noise reducers and even noisier dust removers and of course the screaming machines that actually do the work for you.

One mistake I think we all make at times is that we think first about using a power tool, even for tasks which could be done easier and better with a hand tool. For example, the other day I was trying to figure out how to cut some segment rings in two with the tablesaw or bandsaw. The best I could come up with still required something to hold the ring, keep my fingers away from the blade and get a smooth result. In the end I realized I could do the job better and faster with my Japanese hand saw without safety issues and noisy machines.

Maybe we just need to form better tool choosing habits and then we can bring a better balance between the different types of tools we use.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 4451 days

#4 posted 10-04-2009 08:13 PM

I own almost every power tool from a cordless drill to a CNC Router, a Wide Belt Sander and pretty much everything in between. Even with all that, I have found that using hand tools gives me much more satisfaction than anything else. All of the sudden, it becomes a hobby that is very enjoyable (Not to mention Quieter)
I even discovered that many times hand tools are faster, and in some cases do a better job.

I am now a firm believer that it is not *Either Or, but Both!*


View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 5103 days

#5 posted 10-04-2009 09:17 PM

I find myself also “slowing down” in the shop more and more. I’d rather do it in a way where I become part of the work than an impersonal manner quickly…

-- Steven

View BarryW's profile


1016 posts in 5071 days

#6 posted 10-04-2009 09:59 PM

A 13 inch thickness planer costs 1 and a half decent hand planes…what we all need is unlimited funds for hand tools and power tools…because they all must have their place.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4339 days

#7 posted 10-04-2009 10:16 PM

In bicycling, there’s sort of a movement toward “fixed gear bikes” and away from bikes with complex derailleur mechanisms.

The theory being: return to the simplicity that IS cycling.

Clearly, this is the WW equivalent. As a total newbie, I’m trying to figure out where I might draw that line. It sounds like that line is never really drawn, and—if it is—it’s really in pencil, anyway.

But … 4am? Egads! Up that LATE or up that EARLY??

-- -- Neil

View rustfever's profile


800 posts in 4475 days

#8 posted 10-05-2009 01:08 AM

I, too, previoulsy felt the possesion of every possible power tool to be a minimum requirement. However, recently I started using a small plane for easing corners of joinered lumber. And then, all of a sudden, using hand tools became more fun. I keep adding another small tool or on each project.

Of course, having purchased a ‘slow-speed wet sharpening system’ [Jet] now allows me to get a good crisp, sharp edge on most any hand tool. Once I started using sharp tools, I found their use became significantly easier and much more accurate. [Not to mention rewarding]

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 5039 days

#9 posted 10-06-2009 07:33 PM


-- Happy woodworking!

View scottishrose's profile


110 posts in 4331 days

#10 posted 10-07-2009 09:49 AM

It seems that no matter how early I entend to start working on a project, by the time I get through with all those pesky things ya gotta get at before “they close” it’s 8:30 and you’re are just trying to round up all the tools and set everyting up. I was up till 6:30 this morning working in the workshop. This morning my mother chided me for talking to the rabbits too loud that I woke everyone up who were sleeping in the bedrooms directly above the workshop. Hummmmmmmmmm, Could it be that my banging on a board against a piece I just glued up wrong and wanted to get apart before the glue dried woke them up not my whispering to the rabbits?
Wishing all the relatives would go home and work out their problems there instead of camping out here.
Or short of that wishing I could win the lottery and buy a piece of property big enough so I could work in the shop when ever I wanted. Just can’t help the upside down sleep cycle.

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